The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award was presented to Sam Brooks at the Playmarket Accolades held at the Hannah Playhouse in Wellington on 13 November 2016. The $10,000 cash prize recognises early success in the career of the winning playwright and is designed to encourage their continued exploration of the theatre medium.

Sam Brooks is one of New Zealand’s most exciting and prolific young playwrights. Only in his mid-twenties he has already had ten of his plays produced, as well as winning Playmarket’s b425 competition twice and being Highly Commended in the prestigious Adam NZ Play Awards in 2014 for his play Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys.

His recent work includes the site-specific industry love letter Wine Lips, the autobiographical Stutterpop and the black comedy Burn Her, a brilliant exposé of New Zealand’s contemporary political scene.

He’s a fearless critic and commentator on the theatre scene in The Pantograph Punch, The Wireless and The Spinoff, and was named Auckland’s Most Exciting Playwright by Metro Magazine in 2014.

Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys has been performed throughout the country and was published by Playmarket in 2015 as part of the anthology Here/Now: 8 Plays by Award-winning NZ Playwrights. A revival of Riding in Cars opened in Auckland at The Basement Theatre on 7 November before touring throughout the Auckland region and to Whangarei, Palmerston North and Wellington.

Since 1993 The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award has recognised the work of an outstanding emerging New Zealand playwright. The recipient is decided through voting by a panel of leading Artistic Directors and Script Advisors throughout New Zealand. Previous winners include many of this country’s most celebrated writers including Hone Kouka, Briar Grace-Smith, Jo Randerson and Arthur Meek.

The Award is named after Bruce Mason, considered to be New Zealand’s first most significant playwright. His plays are still produced widely today and many, such as The Pohutakawa Tree and The End of the Golden Weather have come to be considered New Zealand classics. The award is funded by Rachel and David Underwood and The FAME Trust.